Illinois House Passes Bill Requiring Employers to Provide Reasonable Accommodations for Pregnancy and Child-Birth Related Conditions

On May 28, 2014, the Illinois House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 8, which amends the Illinois Human Rights Act to require Illinois employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for conditions related to pregnancy and child-birth.  The reasonable accommodations would include, for example, modification to job duties or work schedules, assistance with physical work, seating, frequent water and restroom breaks, time-off to recover from child-birth, and private non-bathroom space for breast-feeding or pumping.  House Bill 8, which was already passed by the Illinois Senate, will become effective January 1, 2015, if it is signed into law by Governor Quinn.

House Bill 8 also amends the anti-retaliation provision of the Illinois Human Rights Act to prohibit retaliation against an employee for requesting or attempting to request, or using or attempting to use, any reasonable accommodation under the Illinois Human Rights Act.  The amendment applies to all reasonable accommodations (not only pregnancy-related accommodations).

Illinois employers should familiarize themselves with the new Illinois employment laws created by House Bill 8, as it is expected to be signed by Governor Quinn.  Employers should establish new policies and procedures to deal with pregnancy and child-birth related accommodations and accommodation requests.  Employers should also revise their employee handbooks accordingly in order to comply with these important changes to Illinois employment law.